HL Deb 10 June 1998 vol 590 cc1000-2

2.44 p.m.

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why, and at what cost, the Department of Health has dropped its logo which states "improving the health of the nation" from its stationery and whether that statement remains the policy of the Government.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington)

My Lords, I am not sure whether the noble Lord is concerned more with reckless expenditure by the Department of Health or a basic change of philosophy. I hope that I can reassure him on both points. The stationery on which the previous government's logo was printed is being phased out. However, I am delighted to show your Lordships' House an envelope which I picked out of my letter rack today which still has the old logo. Replacement is taking time and no additional costs have been incurred. I reassure the noble Lord that the Government certainly have ambitious policies to improve the overall health of the whole population which go well beyond those reflected in the previous government's slogan. To retain the stationery logo over a long period would be as inappropriate as to use one which states, Improving the NHS internal market".

Lord Rowallan

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I am delighted to hear that she still considers it is necessary to improve the health of the nation. That is definitely marked on the envelope I have in front of me. However, that is rather peculiar when one considers that one of the main planks on which this Government were elected was national health. Can the Minister give the House an assurance that the Government are doing everything possible to reduce waiting lists, which have now increased by 100,000 when the Government said they would cut waiting lists by 100,000? Will she take this opportunity to advise us of the average waiting time for treatment which is important? Has that increased or decreased?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, the noble Lord's questions are rather wide of the Question on the Order Paper. The answer to his first question is yes. The answer to the second is, "It varies".

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, what logo will the new stationery have, if any?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, as regards stationery that is used by Ministers, letter paper will contain the relevant Minister's name. That is convenient and usual. I do not think even those most concerned about public expenditure would have expected the incoming Government to have tippexed out, for example, Mr. Dorrell's name to replace it with Mr. Dobson's name. The envelopes will be plain.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, the Minister has not made clear whether the policy remains to improve the nation's health. It has been said that the old logo has been removed from the stationery as it equated to the internal market. However, there is no parallel whatsoever between the internal market and improving the nation's health.

Noble Lords


Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, the Minister must agree that through the internal market we discovered which procedures were unnecessarily expensive or badly carried out. That was a valuable form of clinical audit which—as we have discussed at Question Time in the past few days—is to be replaced next year.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I hope I made it clear in my response to the Question that improving the overall health of the nation is the Government's continuing policy. The slogan has been replaced by the title of the new public health document, Our Healthier Nation. I reassure the Opposition Front Bench that this decision was taken collectively by all the health Ministers.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

My Lords, was not this slogan dropped out of deference to the record of the previous government, who far from improving the health of the nation increased wide-ranging inequalities?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, my noble friend has given me the opportunity to expand my original Answer. The public health document of this Government, Our Healthier Nation, devotes much attention to reducing inequalities of health. That is an important subject.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, is the Government's policy of improving the health of the nation not rather stultified by the Chancellor's policy of conserving the wealth of the nation?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, if the noble Lord looked at the increases in public expenditure directed towards the Health Service in the two Budgets of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, he could not possibly ask that question.

Lord McColl of Dulwich

My Lords, does the Minister realise that this question arose because she sent me a letter on the back of which the words, "Improving the Health of the Nation", were scored out. I asked the department why it had scored the words out. I was told simply: "It is no longer government policy".

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I am afraid that I should need to know the source of that scoring out. I think that it is at about the same level as the tippexing out of the Secretary of State's name to which I referred in answering a previous question from the other side.

Lord Acton

My Lords, is my noble friend aware how delightful it is to see the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, in his place in such obviously good health?